By Pierre Oliver
The question keeps coming up at RPM meets, so I will share my method of working with the etched ladder stiles I offer through Yarmouth Model Works.
First step is to run a #80 drill through the etched holes to insure adequate clearance for the grabs that will follow. Sometimes the etching process leaves the holes a tad undersized.With that done clip the stiles free of the fret. Xuron makes an excellent set of shears for this task.
Next fold the stiles into long angles. I recommend the 4" Mk IV RTH Hold & Fold tool from The Small Shop. I blogged about this tool here, http://elgincarshops.blogspot.ca/2014/03/a-better-mouse-trap.html
With the stiles done, prepare the rungs. I use Tichy pre-formed grabs, but you can use whatever you like or form your own from finer wire or a different rung width. Clip the grab legs very short. You only need enough to just pass through the stile. You'll also want to prepare a styrene spacer. Cut a scrap of 0.020" styrene 0.185" wide and about 3" long
Now for the fiddly bit. Rest a stile on each side of the spacer. Note that there are left and right stiles. Grab a rung with your tweezers and wiggle it into the holes. A little dab of glue and move on.
Slide the assembly along the spacer and add another rung and secure. Use your eye to keep everything square. The glue won't fully cure immediately, so you have some fiddling time.
Repeat as required.
With practice you can do this fairly quickly. I can do a full set of ladders for a car in about 20 minutes on a good day.
Now about adhesive. Standard CA does not bond well on metal to metal joints. I was told about this stuff by my friend Peter Aue, who is also responsible for a lot of the etching artwork I use. This Loctite product is specifically meant for metal to metal joins. It is pricy, but it is really good stuff. Store it in the fridge and you should be good for quite some time.
With the ladders assembled, create some standoffs from 3" lengths of 2"x3" styrene and glue to the inside of the angles. The exact location will vary by car. You may also want to add standoffs to the outside stile of the end ladders as well, again depending on the car.
Secure your ladders to the car, and stand back and admire. The result is well worth the effort.
We are working on another ladder spacing. 15" rung centres will available soon.